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Red Blossom Blog

How Oxidation Changes Tea Flavor

How Oxidation Changes Tea Flavor

Clearly, this all-important stage of processing must have some major impact on flavor. But the influence of oxidation is hard to isolate, since crafting methods are usually specific to each traditional region. If we were to taste the hypothetical teas above, plucked from the same tea bush on the same day but processed in different ways, what range would we find in flavor? What molecular changes take place during oxidation that have such a profound effect on our palate? And what makes some varieties and harvests more suited for oxidation than others?

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Which Teas Are Most Popular In China and Taiwan?

Which Teas Are Most Popular In China and Taiwan?

We are often asked to recommend the tea styles that are most popular in their country of origin. Thanks to the vast range of tea styles produced in China and Taiwan, each region has its own specialty, and local loyalties are fierce. If you’re looking for a gift or wondering what to buy while in China, check out this list for the best teas of each region.

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Signs of Quality: Bagged Teas vs. Loose Leaves

Signs of Quality: Bagged Teas vs. Loose Leaves

For a large number of tea drinkers in the modern world, tea bags are the norm. In any regions where European influences have shaped the tea culture, bagged teas are readily available in grocery stores and cafes, while loose leaf teas are sold in specialty shops, associated with special brewing rituals, or generally considered “too fancy” for everyday consumption.

In fact, the difference between bagged and loose leaves is only that: packaging. Loose tea leaves are not always of better quality than those found in bags, and bagged teas are not always “easier” to brew. As with any aspect of tea, the manner in which the leaves are packaged is a choice that each tea drinker can make for themselves. In this blog post, we’ll break down what you can (and can’t) tell about a tea’s quality from the way it is packaged.

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What is Da Hong Pao Tea?

What is Da Hong Pao Tea?

As one of the most famously celebrated teas in China, Da Hong Pao (translated as either ‘Big Red Robe’, or more poetically, ‘Grand Scarlet Robe’) is surrounded by myth and legend. While fantastic stories have helped to build this tea’s reputation as a rare and valuable commodity, they say little about the quality of flavor found in any particular leaf. So what makes Da Hong Pao so special, and what does it mean when a product is labeled “Big Red Robe”?

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How Tea Grows: Anatomy of a Tea Plant

How Tea Grows: Anatomy of a Tea Plant

With the wide variety of tea styles produced worldwide, it can be hard to believe that all types of tea, excluding herbal tisanes, are made from the same species. Flavors and even the physical attributes of the finished leaves can vary drastically from tea to tea, giving the impression that green teas are in some way fundamentally different from black teas.

But in fact, all teas come from the same Camellia sinensis plant. Thousands of years of cultivation have teased myriad colors, textures, and flavors out of this single species, which now distinguish the huge variety of teas we know and love.

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Defining High Quality: What Makes a Good Tea?

Defining High Quality: What Makes a Good Tea?

With thousands of years of history spanning the entire globe, it’s safe to say that standards for high quality tea are not always consistent. Tastes have changed over time, as tea has gone from an herbal medicine to an imperial tribute to a global commodity. Tastes also vary from region to region, especially when those areas are isolated from each other - tea preferences in Japan and India have both diverged drastically from developments in China over time.

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What is Competition Grade Tea?

What is Competition Grade Tea?

Many teas across all categories are marketed with the phrase “Competition Grade”, a moniker meant to indicate exceptional quality. In a post-imperial age, tea competitions are thought to be the ultimate authority on quality. But as with so many other naming conventions, the regulations surrounding this terminology are lax. While Competition Grade tea may indeed be high quality, the name is no guarantee. In fact, the concept of a competition inherently implies at least two distinct grades.

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Types of Green Tea: The Importance of Harvest Date

Types of Green Tea: The Importance of Harvest Date

Green tea is among the most popular style worldwide, but the huge variety in green teas can be overwhelming. Though the crafting steps of green tea are typically minimal, and the style is narrowly defined by the lack of oxidation, the range in green tea flavor can be enormous, even before considering scented and flavored varieties. To narrow down the options to more a more specific selection of flavor profiles, we recommend asking about harvest date.

Harvest date is the primary criteria for grading traditional Chinese green teas, with the first leaves picked during the year fetching the highest prices. But the most expensive tea is not always best for every palate, and exceptions exist to every rule. So how exactly does harvest date contribute to quality? And what factors can change the impact of traditional harvest dates?

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How Artisans Use Machines To Craft The Best Teas

How Artisans Use Machines To Craft The Best Teas

We love traditional teas, and we believe that expertise passed down through generations of tea farmers and crafters is key to maximizing quality. But we also know the value of innovation. Many of our favorite teas are produced in new and unique ways, whether it’s the experimental oxidation level of our Xin Gong Yi white tea or the blend of varieties in our Three Cultivar Red black tea. And in this modern age, most of our best teas are crafted with the help of machinery, which helps automate crafting processes long done by hand.

It may not fit the romantic image presented to tourists or pictured in documentaries, but the advantages of using machines in the crafting process are hard to deny, especially as premium tea farms face labor shortages and volatile weather conditions. While teas harvested or crafted by machine are sometimes derided by purists, artisans making every style of tea now use machinery specifically developed to mimic the traditional methods of crafting that have been passed down to them. Rather than compromising the quality of the tea, these machines help maintain quality, consistency, and cleanliness during the production process.

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